Giant American Gothic

All Rights Reserved Megan Bannister

Of all the things to see at this year’s Iowa State Fair, a 25-foot-tall replica of Grant Wood’s famed “American Gothic” was among my favorites. The sculpture, titled”God Bless America” and built by New Jersey artist J. Seward Johnson Jr., has been in Iowa for years, but somehow I’m just getting around to seeing it now.

You might have spotted this towering duo on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, standing guard at the Dubuque Museum of Art, or amongst the trees on the Simpson College campus in Indianola. One notable difference from Wood’s representation are the suitcases at the figures’ feet, which are said to represent outsourcing of American jobs (complete with stickers from countries where those jobs have moved).

I’m not sure how long the sculpture will be housed at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, so be sure to plan a visit soon. I promise, it’s well worth it—the classic duo looks as if they’ve stepped right off the canvas of Wood’s painting.

The sculpture is part of Johnson’s “Icons Revisited” series, which also includes a series of replicas of the famous photo “V–J day in Times Square” called “Unconditional Surrender” and a 17-ton representation of Marilyn Monroe from the “Seven Year Itch” you might remember from its 2011 home in downtown Chicago. Want to see more? If you happen to find yourself in New Jersey before the end of September, a retrospective of Johnson’s work is being held at Hamilton’s Grounds for Sculpture.

Iowa State Fairgrounds, 3000 E. Grand Avenue in Des Moines

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